When You Finish Your Fifth Half Marathon You Get A Medal AND An Engagement Ring

I registered for the Austin Half Marathon months ago with the intention of rocking the course.  I had just completed the Rock n' Roll St. Louis Half Marathon while working through an injury.  I felt so proud of just finishing when my body was so out of wack that I set my sights high.  I ended up being sick quite a bit in the time between the end of October and February 19th 2012.  I lost more cardio endurance, sinus infections are not known for helping that, and was too tired to focus enough on the strength training that I needed to do to keep injuries at bay.  I was really dreading the race.  I felt little confidence about the situation.

I headed to Austin with my boyfriend.  Fortunately he is always full of positive thoughts.  He started walking last spring, lost a good bit of weight, and has completed 3 half marathons.  I think that is an incredible accomplishment.  I decided to walk the half marathon with him and for many reasons I am glad that I did.  I will explain some of those reasons later.

Not too many weeks before Austin, a wonderful man who had played in a band with my friend's husband, passed after a long illness.  He had fought leukemia and won, but his body kept fighting his bone marrow transplant.  Graft Versus Host disease took it's toll on Tony's body.  He was still a newlywed when this started and I admire his wife for truly demonstrating that marriage is about "for better, for worse, in sickness and in health".  It is only after Tony passed away that I discovered I worked with his sister.  She approved this photo and I wore it on my back during the race.

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The guy and I flew to Austin on Friday night. On Saturday morning we headed to the Magnolia Cafe.  It was busy but we didn't have to wait too long.  I had the breakfast tacos.  The bacon was thick and heavenly.  He had the Alaskan Benedict.  The salmon was very good.  I can't wait to have breakfast there the next time I am in Austin.
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We headed to the expo, picked up our bibs and walked around.  I made sure that I got this picture for Tony's sister.  There was hope that I would see Lance Armstrong, but I think that she was equally pleased with the alternative.
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We purchased some running gear then came across a booth from The Open Arms Shop.  They help refugee women in Austin to make a living by making scarves and skirts out of old t-shirts.  A couple of weeks ago I read about them in a book by my favorite new writer Jenn Hatmaker.  I got a running skirt that has "Austin Marathon" written down the side.  Meeting the people who ran this booth was one of my favorite experiences of the weekend because they were so committed to helping others to make their way in the world.

I was also excited to be in Austin because we were going to meet one of the guy's Burmese relatives.  The guy had not seen him for 33 years so it was really cool to meet him and his wife.  We had talked a bit on Facebook so I was really excited to finally see him in person.  We went to Chuy's.  I had fish and shrimp tacos.  Heavenly.  The guy ate some platter that was a tribute to Elvis.  A good time was had by all and I was glad to meet more of is family. So was the guy.
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On race day I felt great.  I usually have an upset stomach before a race but I ate quite a bit.  While we were at the start area a videographer from Livestrong saw the photo of Tony that I was wearing on my back.  I got to talk to him about Tony, my dad, and the things I do with the American Cancer Society.  I am hoping someday to find myself on their website.
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I am so glad that I walked this race.  First of all I got to enjoy Austin with the guy.  Secondly, it was a good test for my injured body.  I had no pain.  I had been in terrible pain during the half marathon that I did last October.  I was very pleased and knew running might make a comeback.  I also met a few Determination people on the course.  It is nice to get a shout out from someone that you've never met.  A Determination runner from Michigan even had someone take our photo together.

The race was so well organized.  The aid stations were well stocked. The people of Austin were wonderful hosts.
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I was having fun and not taking myself too seriously.  I simply wanted to finish pain free.  About a mile or so out we started talking to another walker. She told us she worked for Livestrong.  I was determined to get up that last big hill and noticed she and the guy were behind me.  I waited a bit while they walked and talked.  We headed towards the finish.  The guy asked her if she would take our photo at the finish.  She agreed and I posed in a silly way. He told me not to do that.  I thought "We are always silly in photos."  Then this happened.
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Selwyn can never keep a secret so I am impressed that he pulled this off.  The crowd was cheering.  I was in shock.  What a great race.  My boss had predicted this would happen.  I told her I didn't think so.  It was nice to be so surprised by a proposal.

We went to brunch, during which I sat and stared at the ring.  We celebrated later with our long lost family with a real Texas barbecue dinner.  I think I was still in shock.

On Monday we walked around on Congress Avenue, ate at Guerro's, and planned next year's trip to Austin.  I was in love with Austin before the marathon, but it extra special to me now.
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